Better Off Dead (1985)

TOMATOMETER

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Critic Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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Movie Info

After being rejected by the object of his affection and suffering a series of other humiliations, a depressed teenager decides life is no longer worth living. He can't even commit suicide right, however, and soon finds his life getting even more complicated in this determined wacky teen comedy.

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Critic Reviews for Better Off Dead

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (3)

There's a potentially edgy aspect to Better Off Dead's comedy that's never fully realized.

Oct 2, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Mired in this is Cusack ("The Sure Thing"), an unusually adept verbal comedian not so adept (to his credit) at this kind of slapstick.

Jan 4, 2018 | Full Review…

The film doesn't seem to have much of a focus. But it doesn't seem to want one, either.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

Full of...goofy ironies, and while it ain't Molière, it is a pretty great entry in the teen-comedy genre. [Blu-ray]

Aug 2, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Unfortunately, only about half of the many jokes and gags in the film are actually funny.

Jul 24, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

perhaps the greatest movie of all time

Jul 19, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Better Off Dead

½

Apparently a cult classic (a fact I was unaware about ... I nearly trashed the thing in the opening 5 minutes for spewing flagrant stupidity at me ("This is terrible."), it took a moment to warm me to the leads, to the flavor of the piece, but once acclimated I discovered that there was charm available here. Cusack et al keep it at a quick pace, it's already a piece of cotton candy, and it gets to be like play-fighting a goofy younger brother in the back seat of yer parents' car.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Things only started picking up when John Cusack stared hanging out with the pseudo-French girl. She was really adorable.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Hilarious John Cusack movie :) I love it :) He was so adorable in the 80s & I love that Johnny kid who always wanted his two dollars lol :) :) :) :) :) :)

Cassie Hill
Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

½

This little 80s teen rom-com is essentially John Hughes lite. That's okay though, because even though it's like listening to a decent cover version of a great song, it's still pretty good and enjoyable in its own right. John Cusack plays Lane, a quirky average joe who is obsessed with a hot popular chick. He decides that life is no longer worth living after she dumps him for a more popular jock. What ensues is a bizarre, surreal look at 80s suburbia and all the weirdness that goes on in Lane's life as he tries to win back the girl of his dreams (or try to kill himself). This is a very odd, random movie, but it's never too morose or too sappy. The sesne of humor is very quirky and a tad dark, and the film is overflowing with a bunch of stuff that I can only describe as quintessentially 80s. You just have to see it to know what I'm talking about. Some of this also sort of reminded me of attempts at Woodt Allen, what with the neurotic odd balls and very meta-moments. Cusack is good, but the supporting players are the oens who really steal the show here, from the math teacher played by Vincent Schiavelli to Lane's deranged housewife mom played by Kim Darby, to his best friend, and the world's most persistent paperboy. And the Japansese guy who can only talk in English if he does an impression of Howard Cosell. Give this one a look. It could have had a far stronger story and plot, but the surreal nature and offbeat humor make it really fun to watch.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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